Monday 13 September 2021

Please make free

"Property is theft" Pierre-Joseph Proudhon.

 We live really quite remote, 300m up a bohereen from the county road, 2km from the nearest shop and 12km from post-office, bus-stop and chip-shop. On the other hand, that same bohereen is a primary access route to several hundred hectares of hills and uplands which is dead nice to walk in. It is all technically private property but by long-standing convention, visitors are welcome so long as they keep dogs leashed and take their trash home with them. By long-standing convention, Irish people will park wherever they can find space and hill-walkers will throw their cars onto the verge and happily leave them there all day.

Right opposite our front gate  is a patch of grass which can, in a pinch, give room for a couple of cars or 3 Honda Civics. I mow it regularly and have, in the spirit of civic duty, staked the ends where the flattish ground falls abruptly into a drain. It is right opposite our front gate, but nobody ever asks if it's okay to park there; even if we are making a hubbub in the yard and clearly at home. I am pretty much past caring about this. If I happen to cross the lane to check the sheep or fetch fire-wood, the parkers will generally ask "Is it okay to park here?" very much in a nonne "expecting the answer yes" sense, as they continue to change their foot-gear and shoulder their ruck-sacks. It's nice to be asked, I would ask, but, hey? 

Last Saturday tea-time I was sitting, shagged, on the stoop having a reviving cup of tea after a day scything bracken on the hill, when I witnessed some elaborate, noisy and invisible parking theatre just beyond the sheds "Forward a bit, left bit, left a bit, another 2 feet, you're grand". After more chatter and slamming of car-doors, two young women strode past the gate in party clothes and disappeared up the hill. Fair enough; I never got to embarrass myself by making some ironic passive-aggressive comment to their faces. It's always better that way.

Several hours later, as I was making my evening rounds [counting sheep; watering the sage and beets; bringing laundry off the line] I noticed the car was still parked there. But I wasn't unduly concerned: there were two of them, it wasn't mid-winter, it wasn't  full dark  yet and I was bushed; so I went to bed. 0630hrs Sunday morning, however, the car it still there and I'm uneasy. It's defo not appropriate to call mountain rescue; but I don't want to regret doing nothing if folk are in trouble on my watch our hill. I take note of the car-registration and start rehearsing a script for calling the Gardai but not before noon. At about 1130hrs, a neighbour drops something off with us and leaves the gate open . . .

I go to close the gate and there are the two Ladies of the Car. I am effusively welcoming because now I don't have to do anything about their tragic disappearance. "Oh we were wild camping in that field over there! . . . it was lovely, we saw a baby fox this close . . . we went to visit the rock art and then walked up to the Dolmen before bed". That field over there is Gort na Dau.I which has a conveniently flat bit at the bottom big enough for a dozen tents. It's where our girls had their annual Summer camp for several consecutive years in the 00s. The gate is about 40m from our back door; in my book wild-camping is the Big Two-Hearted River or the Cuillin Hills. Anyway: I gave them an earful . . . about the Ringstone, the Earthmother and St Fursey's Altar[R]: far far TMI, I suspect; but that's the penance to be paid for causing me anxiety. Actually, of course I was delighted that they'd had some innocent fun . . . and not left anything behind but some flattened grass.

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